Root cellar update: walls, door and light!

Even though there isn’t a single plumb line or right angle in this entire project, and I’m a little embarrassed to let anyone with actual construction experience see these pictures, I am really damn proud of myself for this. With help from my best friend and my husband, I give you: wall-skeletons! And a light! On a switch! That I put in myself! And a door! With a latch! And a hole where the deadbolt doesn’t fit! But who cares!

This is where things stood after Andy and I spent the weekend of Feb. 20th working on it. Our favorite line of the weekend was, “Well, it’s not a load-bearing wall, so it should be ok…” If you want to do this yourself, remember: Liquid Nails is your friend, and much easier to use with better results than trying to nail into concrete.

Root cellar
(sorry for the backlighting…it’s a basement with a window and my camera is not fancy…)

Then I got the flu and couldn’t work on it for a couple weeks. But today! Hoho! Was there ever work! First, Scott helped me get the last studs in on the right side and wrangle the door into place. The door was a very, very close fit, and it required undoing and redoing the studs, ummmm…more times than I care to admit. I’m so glad I put those in with screws…I swear not a single stud was straight, so even if you put a level on it, it didn’t necessarily mean a stud was actually vertical. Scott joked that we should’ve put the door up first, then put the studs in around it. 🙂 So, by lunch, it looked like this. Aren’t I cute in my grubbies and my grandpa’s pants?

Em in front of the working door
Then for the part that had me most concerned: wiring. I’ve never done any kind of electrical work, nor really helped or seen much of it going in. Also, it can burn down your house if you do it wrong. So I got out my Time-Life “Basic Wiring” book, dredged up everything Andy told me a couple weeks ago, and got started. First discovery: my drill, plus a spade bit, is bigger than the distance between my studs. So, that middle stud came out to be drilled…which also let me drill the wall-side stud to get the wiring through.

Still, a couple hours and a trip to Lowe’s later, I had done it, and very nearly on the first try! In fact, I got everything hooked up, and all the right lights on the circuit-reader gizmo came on…and then I realized that even though I had punched out the right coins on the existing circuit box, I hadn’t actually run the wiring through the side of the box. I’d gone in the front. *doh* So I had to undo all that, run the wire through the side, and wire it all back up again. It was not easier the second time, alas.
Em's first electrical work

And so, here’s where it stands:
Root cellar

That light fixture on the ceiling runs into an outlet (if you look carefully, you can see the happy orange “your circuit is working and shouldn’t burn down your house” lights of the tester above the door), through a switch, and into the outlet on the far left side.

After I got all this done, I cleaned up the basement and put a  bunch of tools away. Then I couldn’t help myself, and I reorganized all the bulk food storage. Hallelujah…I can find the rice again without searching through every single bucket!



  1. March 8, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Woo-hoo! Go, Emily! 🙂

  2. Kate said,

    March 8, 2010 at 10:23 am

    that is incredible. i am totally impressed.

  3. Matt said,

    March 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Very cool! I’m jealous I don’t yet have a house of my own to mod. Careful of the 2nd to last pic from the bottom if you put dry wall up though. I think code requires you to put a little piece of metal flashing on the 2×4 in front of the wire so some future resident doesn’t put a nail through it while trying to hang something.

  4. Lisa Bashert said,

    March 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Very impressive, Emily! I would be terrified to tackle electrical wiring. It will be so exciting when your first bushel of apples goes in there. My own root cellar was virtually in place in the NW corner of my basement, requiring very little effort on my part to get it going: There was already a wall and door (no stud work, luckily), no heat vent, a window for outside air, a drain in the floor — even a cold air return for air circulation. All I had to do was insulate the water pipes where they passed thru the ceiling and insulate the door. I can only concluded that in the distant past, it *was* a root cellar and I was just reclaiming its original function. Again it was a glorious 38 degrees all winter!

  5. Suzie said,

    March 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm


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